Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Belltower: Stonehenge improved

From page A4 | December 30, 2013 | 4 Comments

When my son was 14 and my daughter in junior college we took them on a trip to Europe. In London we visited the Tower of London and Trafalgar Square, among other things. On our way to Trafalgar Square we realized we had come upon a gay parade — and this one was way bigger than the one in San Francisco. It was huge. Afterward parade participants scattered around the city and we caught site of one with a hoop skirt as big as the Mother Goose character in the Nutcracker Ballet.

England remains perennially cute. Cute includes a municipal band that entertains patrons at Paddington Station. Paddington is where we caught the train to Bath. From the train station in Bath we walked about a block to the Best Western Motel, which seemed more American than British — a very comfortable surprise.

My wife stayed behind in Bath and caught a performance of the boys choir at the Anglican church next to the old Roman bath. I rented a car and the kids and I were off to the Salisbury Plain. Right-hand drive was no problem for me. I had spent a summer in New Zealand while in the Navy and bought and rebuilt a 1947 English Ford, which I drove all over the place. Right-hand-drive and circles were a snap. The only real problem is being a pedestrian who still naturally looks left first instead of right first.

Arriving at Stonehenge, I was surprised to find it near the fork of two highways. It was still impressive, though.

Now, the Associated Press reported that the road right next Stonehenge is being closed and grassed over. The visitors center has been totally redone and includes a diorama of Stonehenge and bus service to the collection of BC blue stones hauled in from 175 mile in 3000 BC. Or one can walk the 1.5-mile path to get there. Either way the tickets are now going to cost you $24 each to help pay the $44 million spent on relocating the highway and building the fancy-schmancy center with a diorama and a metal model of Stonehenge. Maybe that price will discourage modern-day Druids who gather there for winter and summer solstices by the thousands.

Equally fascinating for me is the Avebury Circle. At 28 acres it is the largest stone circle in the world. The circle of stones goes right through the middle of the little village of Avebury. There are actually two circles inside of the large outer circle. Only the outer ring is apparent to anyone but an archeologist. And visible from Avebury is a large chalk mound (131 feet high) called Silbury Hill. No one is buried there. It is just another mystery monument, shaped somewhat like the mound of dirt piled on the south side of the Ray Lawyer Driver overpass. No one is buried there either. So far that is a mystery monument as well.

Avebury has no admission fee. It is open to anyone who can find a place to park.  The Avebury henge attracts people who stand, sit and crouch under the rocks or hug them as though they absorb some mystic empowerment from the stones that date back to about 2600 BC.

Who am I to say they can’t? Though the rock huggers look a little dopey. The Avebury Circle was so much larger in diameter than Stonehenge, but less dramatic. When we drove on to Salisbury Cathedral I found that pretty impressive and somewhat mystical, though the rock huggers might have regarded me as dopey. My son didn’t wake up from his sleep in the back of the Austin Minor and never saw the cathedral. Not sure how a 6-foot-5-inch 14-year-old managed to curl up in the back of the Austin. It was mystical, for  sure.

Michael Raffety is editor of the Mountain Democrat. His column appears biweekly.

Michael Raffety


Discussion | 4 comments

  • J.F. MeyerDecember 24, 2013 - 12:01 pm

    Interesting! I'd love to see Stonehenge at any time of the year. Here are some photos of it in December. Hard to fathom the place was created THAT long ago. Eerie and mysterious, to be sure.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • James E.December 24, 2013 - 12:14 pm

    I visited Stonehenge in 1989. I had forgotten that it was just North of a Y in the road. And, I don't remember having to pay any fee. How did they move such large stones and place some of them on top? It's built in a circle, so there must have been some religious thing with the position of the sun being primary. Something historical to see if you visit England. Been there long before us and will be there long after us.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • James E.December 24, 2013 - 12:16 pm

    6'5" at 14? A career in the NBA?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • robertdnollDecember 25, 2013 - 7:11 am

    nice story

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .


    EDH Fire Dept. annexing Latrobe

    By Noel Stack | From Page: A1, 8 Comments

    Motorcycle fatality in Greenwood

    By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1

    Greenwood School being restored

    By Rebecca Murphy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Cal Fire increasing staffing, hiring

    By Cal Fire | From Page: B1

    EID restricts watering days

    By Michael Raffety | From Page: A1, 13 Comments

    Lover’s Leap fall injures man

    By Tahoe Tribune | From Page: A1

    Tea Party meeting April 17

    By Tea Party Patriots Of El Dorado Hills | From Page: A3, 69 Comments

    Town Hall Meeting on Underage Drinking May 1

    By El Dorado Hills Community Vision Coalition | From Page: A6

    Floating body not a body

    By Cole Mayer | From Page: A7

    Old mill a goner

    By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A11, 18 Comments | Gallery



    Murder? Suicide?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 8 Comments

    ‘Drive Clean’

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 19 Comments

    Middle class getting poorer?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 54 Comments

    Real estate lies

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 16 Comments

    A great big thanks

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5



    Ponderosa volleyball is a family affair

    By Jerry Heinzer | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Aussie team makes visit

    By Special to the Democrat | From Page: A8

    Griz have challenging day

    By Mike Bush | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Outside with Charlie: Switch gear

    By Charlie Ferris | From Page: A8

    Roundup: April 15, 2014

    By Democrat Staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery



    At a glance: Take aim on fun

    By Mimi Escabar | From Page: B2

    Men to walk a mile in her shoes

    By Center For Violence-Free Relationships | From Page: B2 | Gallery

    Runners stampede for Sugarloaf scholarships

    By El Dorado County Office of Education | From Page: B2 | Gallery

    Team works to fight disease

    By Placerville Kiwanis | From Page: B3

    COOL School is accepting applications

    By Rescue Union | From Page: B4

    Band of Miwoks fund mission

    By Shingle Springs Band Of Miwok Indians | From Page: B12



    Crime Log: March 25-27

    By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2

    Weather stats 4-15-14

    By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2



    Numa Edward “Ed” Roberts

    By Contributor | From Page: A2

    Ronald Russell Rohrer

    By Contributor | From Page: A2, 2 Comments


    Real Estate



    New York Times Crossword

    By Contributor | From Page: A10


    By Contributor | From Page: A10

    Horoscope, Thursday, April 17, 2014

    By Contributor | From Page: A10

    Horoscope, Wednesday, April 16, 2014

    By Contributor | From Page: A10

    TV Listings

    By Contributor | From Page: A10


    By Contributor | From Page: A10

    Flying McCoys

    By Contributor | From Page: A10

    Speed Bump

    By Contributor | From Page: A10

    Working It Out

    By Contributor | From Page: A10


    By Contributor | From Page: A10


    By Contributor | From Page: A10